« ПредишнаНапред »
presented to the consideration of the President an'd Congress, did not call on Mr. Van Buren, during his Presidency, to express an opinion, in any particular or formal manner, respecting the protective policy.
But I will now compare the opinions and principles of the present President of the United States, as expressed by him officially, with the principles and opinions of General Jackson during his Presidency, as expressed by him officially. I begin, Gentlemen, by reading to you what Mr. Polk says upon this subject of protection, in his message at the commencement of the last session of Congress, being his first annual message. It will require some attention from you, Gentlemen. I hope you will not think me presuming too much upon your patience.
Hear, then, what Mr. Polk says in his message of last December, on the opening of Congress: —
"The object of imposing duties on imports should be to raise revenue to pay the necessary expenses of government. Congress may, undoubtedly, in the exercise of a sound discretion, discriminate in arranging the rates of duty on different articles; but the discriminations should be within the revenue standard, and be made with a view to raise money for the support of government.
"If Congress levy a duty, for revenue, of one per cent, on a given article, it will produce a given amount of money to the treasury, and will, incidentally and necessarily, afford protection or advantage to the amount of one per cent, to the home manufacturer of a similar or like article over the importer. If the duty be raised to ten per cent., it will produce a greater amount of money, and afford greater protection. If it be raised to twenty, twenty-five, or thirty per cent., and if, as it is raised, the revenue derived from it is found to be increased, the protection and advantage will also be increased, but if it be raised to thirty-one per cent., and it is found that the revenue produced at that rate is less than at the rate of thirty, it ceases to be revenue duty. The precise point in the ascending scale of duties, at which it is ascertained from experience that the revenue is greatest, is the maximum rate of duty which can be laid for the bona fide purpose of collecting money for the support of the government."
Now, Gentlemen, there are those who find difficulty in understanding exactly what Mr. Polk means by the "revenue standard." Perhaps this is not entirely plain. But one thing is clear, whatever else he may or may not mean, he means to be against all'protection. He means that the sole and exclusive object to be regarded by the legislator, in imposing duties on imports, is to obtain money for the revenue. That is to be the only thing aimed at. He says, truly, that if a duty be laid on an imported article, an incidental benefit may accrue to the producer of a like article at home. But then this is incidental; it is altogether adventitious, an accident, a collateral or consequential result. It is not a matter to be taken into the view of the law-makers. It is to form no part of their purpose in framing or passing the law. That purpose is to be confined altogether to the inquiry after that "maximum rate of duty which can be laid for the bond fide purpose of collecting money for the support of the government."
This is his doctrine, as plain as words can make it. It is to lay such duties as may be most beneficial to revenue, and nothing but revenue; and if, in raising a revenue duty, it shall happen that domestic manufactures are protected, why that's all very well. But the protection of domestic manufactures is not to be any object of concern, nor to furnish any motive, to those who make the law. I think I have not misrepresented Mr. Polk. I think his meaning is sufficiently plain, and is precisely as I state it. Indeed, I have given you his own words. He would not, himself, deny the meaning of his words, as I have stated it. He is for laying taxes for revenue, and for revenue alone, just as if there were no iron manufactures, or other manufactures, in the United States. This is the doctrine of Mr. Polk.
Now, was this General Jackson's doctrine? Was it ever his doctrine? Let us see. I read you an extract from General Jackson's first message. He says: —
"The general rule to be applied in graduating the duties upon articles of foreign growth or manufacture is that which will place our own in fair competition with those of other countries; and the inducements to advance even a step beyond this point are controlling, in regard to those articles which are of primary necessity in time of war."
What is this doctrine? Does it not say in so many words, that, in imposing duties upon articles of foreign manufactures, it is the business of the framers of the law to lay such duties, and to lay them in such a way, as shall give our own producers a fair competition against the foreign producer? And does not General Jackson go further, and say,— and you, Pennsylvanians, from here to Pittsburg, and all you workers in iron and owners of iron mines, may consider it, — does he not go further, and say, that, in regard to articles of primary importance, in time of war, we are under controlling reasons for going a step farther, and putting down foreign competition? Now, I submit to you, Gentlemen, instead of putting down foreign competition, is not the tariff of 1846 calculated to put down our own competition?
But I will read to you, Gentlemen, an extract from General Jackson's second message, which, in my opinion, advances the true doctrine, the true American constitutional rule and principle, fully, clearly, admirably.
"The power to impose duties on imports originally belonged to the several States; the right to adjust those duties, with the view to the encouragement of domestic branches of industry, is so completely identical with that power, that it is difficult to suppose the existence of the one without the other.
"The States have delegated their whole authority over imports to the general government, without limitation or restriction, saving the very inconsiderable reservation relating to their inspection laws. This authority having thus entirely passed from the States, the right to exercise it for the purpose of protection does not exist in them, and consequently, if it be not possessed by the general government, it must be extinct. Our political system would thus present the anomaly of a people stripped of the right to foster their own industry, and to counteract the most selfish and destructive policy which might be adopted by foreign nations.
"This, surely, cannot be the case; this indispensable power thus surrendered by the States, must be within the scope of the authority on the subject expressly delegated to Congress.
"In this conclusion I am confirmed, as well by the opinions of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, who have each repeatedly recommended the exercise of this right under the Constitution, as by the uniform practice of Congress, the continued acquiescence oi the States, and the general understanding of the people."
It appears to me, Gentlemen, that these extracts from General Jackson's messages read very differently from the extracts from President Polk's message at the opening of the last session of Congress, which I have quoted. I think that his notion of a revenue standard —if President Polk means any thing by it beyond this, that it is the sole business of this government to obtain as much money as it needs, and to obtain it in the best way it can, if he means to say that there is any other object belonging to the revenue standard which is not incidental, which may or may not happen — is all visionary, vague, ideal, and, when touched by the principles announced by General Jackson, explodes like gun-cotton. You perceive, Gentlemen, that in his message to Congress General Jackson addressed himself directly to the object. He says, in raising revenues, consider that your duty is so to arrange duties on imports as to give to the manufacturer of the country a fair competition, and, in certain articles, to suppress foreign competition. There is an object, a purpose, a motive, in protection and for protection, and it is not left to the cabalistic word "incidental."
I have said that I believe that the people of this country see the difference between the principles of General Jackson and the principles of this administration on the great subject of protection, and I have endeavored to present that difference plainly, and in the very words of each. I think they see the difference, also, upon other important subjects.
Take, for instance, the war with Mexico. I am accustomed, Gentlemen, to mix so far as I am able, and as my circumstances will allow, with men of all classes and conditions in life; men of various political opinions. Your own avocations and concerns in life will have led you to do the same; and I now ask you, if you ever found a sensible and reasonable man who said to you that he believed that, if General Jackson or Mr. Van Buren had been at the head of the government, we should have had this Mexican war. I have found none such. Why, we all know, Gentlemen, that the President,—I have not to settle questions of greater or less worth, or the peculiar claims between members of a party to which I do not belong, — but we all know the fact that Mr. Polk came into office against Mr. Van Buren; that he came in on the Texas interest and for a Texas purpose; and we all know that Texas and Texas purposes have brought on this war. Therefore I say, I know no man of intelligence and sound judgment who believes that, if the Baltimore Convention had nominated, and the people elected, Mr. Van Buren to the Presidency, we should now have on hand a Mexican war.
The purpose of these remarks has been to show you, Gentlemen, what I consider to have been the causes of the great change which has taken place in public opinion itself; and it is vain for any body to say, that any local causes here, or local causes there, have brought about this result. That Anti-rentism in New York and some other ism in Pennsylvania have produced such important consequences, it is folly to say; there is nothing at all in it. The test is this. Do you say that questions of State policy or State elections only have influenced this result? If you say so, then look at the elections for members of Congress. Members of Congress have nothing to do with these State questions; and the truth is, that elections of members of Congress in this State and in New York have been carried by larger majorities than any other elections. These elections have been governed mainly by questions of national policy. There were counties in New York in which there was no Anti-rentism. There were others in which Anti-rent influence was as much on one side as the other. But take the test even in regard to them. I find it stated, and I believe correctly, that Mr. Fish, the Whig candidate for Lieutenant-Governor, a most respectable and honorable man, but certainly not a supporter of those who profess themselves in favor of Anti-rent doctrine, — I find it stated that he obtained more votes for the office of Lieutenant-Governor than Mr. Wright received as the Democratic candidate for Governor. That flattering unction, therefore, gentlemen cannot lay to themselves. There is, in truth, no getting over the result of the popular election, nor getting beyond it, nor getting around it, nor behind it, nor doing any thing with it, but acknowledging it to be the expression of public opinion against the measures of the present administration.
I proceed to make some remarks upon the occurrences of the session, connected with the previous course of the administration, since Mr. Polk assumed the office of President.
The question respecting the territory of Oregon is a settled question, and all are glad that it is so. I am not about to disturb it, nor do I wish to revive discussions connected with it; but in two or three particulars it is worth while to make some remarks upon it.
By the treaty of Washington of 1842, all questions subsisting between the United States and England were settled and adjusted, with the exception of the Oregon controversy. (Great